Karnataka Approaches Supreme Court Over Funds For Drought Management

Karnataka Approaches Supreme Court Over Funds For Drought Management

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the state government has filed a petition in the top court

New Delhi:

The Karnataka government has moved the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Centre to release financial assistance from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) to the state for drought management.

The petition has also sought to declare that the Centre’s action in not releasing the financial assistance for drought arrangement as per the NDRF is “ex-facie violative” of the fundamental rights of the people of the state guaranteed under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

It said the state is reeling under “severe drought”, affecting the lives of its people and for the Kharif 2023 season, which starts in June and ends in September, a total of 223 out of 236 taluks are declared as drought-affected.

The plea said 196 taluks are categorised as severely affected and the remaining 27 as moderately affected.

“Cumulatively for Kharif 2023 season, the agriculture and horticulture crop loss have been reported in more than 48 lakh hectares with the estimated loss (cost of cultivation) of Rs 35,162 crore,” the plea, filed through advocate D L Chidananda, said.

It said the assistance sought from Government of India under the NDRF is Rs 18,171.44 crore.

“In terms of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, Union of India is under obligation to render financial assistance to the state governments,” the plea, settled by senior advocate Devdatt Kamat and state’s Advocate General K Shashi Kiran Shetty, said.

It said the state is constrained to move the top court against the “arbitrary actions” of the Centre in denying the financial assistance for drought management to Karnataka under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and the manual for drought management updated in 2020.

“Further, the impugned action of the Central Government is violative of statutory scheme of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the manual for drought management and the guidelines on constitution and administration of the State Disaster Response Fund and National Disaster Response Fund,” the plea said.

It said under the manual for drought management, the Centre is required to take a final decision on the assistance to the state from the NDRF within a month of the receipt of the inter-ministerial central team (IMCT).

“Despite the IMCT report, which visited various drought affected districts from October 4 to 9, 2023 and made a comprehensive assessment of drought situation in the state and consideration of the said report by the sub-committee of the National Executive Committee constituted under section 9 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, Centre has not taken a final decision on the assistance to the state from the NDRF even after a lapse of almost six months from the date of the said report,” the plea said.

It alleged that inaction on the part of the Centre to act on the report and take a final decision to release financial assistance to the state is “ex-facie illegal, arbitrary, and violative of fundamental rights” guaranteed to its citizens under Article 14 and Article 21 of the Constitution.

It said the State is duty bound to affirmatively protect the fundamental rights of its people guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had on Saturday said the state government has filed a petition in the top court demanding a direction to the Centre to immediately release grants under the NDRF to the state, which is reeling under acute drought.

Accusing the Centre of sitting on Karnataka’s pleas for release of funds though there is a severe drought, he had said the state government was compelled to approach the top court.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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